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Friday Feb 22, 2013

Joburg power doesn't want property letting company's money

The Simpsons owe the City of Joburg close to R2 million for electricity. The problem they have, which is different from that of most ratepayers, is that they want to pay, but the council doesn't want to take the money.

Mary-Anne Simpson and her husband have a property letting company.

And, City Power continues to supply them with electricity, free, with no clue of how much is being used.

Despite the couple's pleas, numerous phone calls, e-mails and more than 60 visit to council offices, the City of Joburg refuses to accept their money.

Metrowatch first reported their story in June.

Mary-Anne Simpson and her husband, John, own several properties. They have various problems with the accounts.

For example, the Simpsons put prepaid meters into a block of flats they own in West Turffontein. Mary-Anne collects the money to pay it over to the council.

"We stopped getting an electricity bill early last year and when I queried it, I was told council officials had inspected the building subsequent to our installation of the prepaid meters and closed the electricity account.

"The person at the walk-in centre was so rude to me... she told me I should know that if there are prepaids, the council closes the account.

"We owe them between R1m and R2m for this account," said Mary-Anne.

She also has a problem in a Yeoville block of flats for which she got a clearance certificate.

"I went to open my electricity account and they refused to open it unless the arrears of about R300 000 were paid, despite the fact that we had a clearance certificate.

"After much argument, they agreed the clearance certificate was valid. But they argued that until I paid the amount, they would not open an account," she said.

Eventually, a senior legal official conceded the arrears had nothing to do with her and that she was not liable.

He said he would close the account, which he did.

Then she was told the council would not open an account as the old account had only recently been closed.

"Any attempt to explain fell on deaf ears. We still have no account. But, yes, the council continues to supply us with electricity. They do not have any idea of consumption.

"We have even tried telling them what to bill us as we were using a meter-reading company and could tell them what the consumption was.

"We don't want free electricity, but no matter what attempt we make, it's futile. It's no wonder Joburg teeters on bankruptcy.

"I think the biggest frustration from consumers who do want to pay for what they use is that there is no channel to help resolve problems.

"We also get hounded by legal call centres for outstanding money due many years after we sold properties when actually all the accounts were up to date. Recently, we were threatened with blacklisting," she said.

The City of Joburg did not respond to a request for comment.

The Star

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